Dimming Your Light

Often in many instances, people do not appreciate the fact of your ‘dimming’ your light so that they can have their moment to shine.  I personally have had many large scaled moments and often have entrée to some of the most impressive concerts, events and musical elite. For others, it may take a one time catalyst for them to enjoy anything near such an experience.  So I guess my question or thought is this:  why do musicians or persons in the arts of take a posture of being on the defensive or a stance that you are on their turf?  Well, since this is my personal blog, I will share a personal observation and story in regards to the history Ben Holt Memorial Branch of the National Association of Negro Musicians, Inc.

Around 2009, I was approached by my colleague Damon Dandridge about the fact that their was once a DC Branch of the National Association of Negro Musicians, Inc.  The branch had been non-existent for a long time and so Dandridge asked me if I would be interested in starting a new Washington branch.  As most people have seen, I  am pretty well-connected to the Washington arts scene and bringing the arts community together.  So with that being said, I accepted the invitation and ran with it.  At that time, I was in constant contact and communication with Mayme Wilkins Holt, the mother of the late Metropolitan Opera baritone Ben Holt, for whom the branch was named.  Through our friendship, conversations and mutual appreciation for the breadth of her son’s work, I thought it only befitting that the invitation that I accepted from Damon Dandridge be carried out, leading up to the naming of the branch, The Ben Holt Memorial Branch of the National Association of Negro Musicians, Inc.

This lead to a series of interest meetings that were targeted to my followers on social media and the local Washington arts community.  The first series of meetings were held at Alfred Street Baptist Church where several of Washington’s outstanding representatives of the arts community came with the same passion of continuing the legacy of NANM in Washington.  At that time, I was Minister of Music at Takoma Park Baptist Church and so it was only befitting that the meetings be held there, a special place of reference.  Ben Holt sang there many times and his mother Mayme Wilkins Holt continues to serve as faithful member.  In fact, she was the chair of the music committee of the church and very much responsible for my being in Washington.  At the recommendation of Everett P. Williams, Jr.,  Mrs. Holt called me.  When she said her name on the phone, I could not believe that it was the same Holt that I had seen on a Metropolitan Opera “Porgy and Bess” poster in the studio of my teacher Michael Forest at Shenandoah Conservatory in 2003.  So to receive this phone call from the actual mother of Ben Holt was just amazing!

And so, because of my presence on social media through Facebook and my writings on numerous media outlets, I was able to attract some of the brightest stars in the Washington arts community. Some of my earlier supporters were outstanding concert organists Dr. Mickey Thomas Terry, Evelyn Simpson Curenton, sopranos Lisa Edwards-BurrsMarlissa Hudson, and pianist Dana K. Morgan among many others.  This led to a glorious chartering celebration at Washington’s Historic Asbury United Methodist Church where we all paid  homage to the legacy of Ben Holt and marked a new season of presence in the arts community.

So to fast forward now to the 2015 Convention being held this week in Washington, D. C. gives me moments of great pause.  After my three years as president of the Ben Holt Branch and the months prior of organization, I moved on and new leadership became evident.  Most of the distinguished musicians of the city who came to the branch left off the scene with the end of my tenure.  Purposely, I stayed away from the activities of the branch with good intentions so that the leadership could flourish without the shadow of my legacy presented as a problem.

Yet, upon my return to the NANM scene in the capacity of covering the events of the 2015 NANM events, I was approached by several persons from places beyond Washington with the notion that I got the Ben Holt Memorial Branch started and then abandoned it.  That is a seed that could have only been planted and it seems that it has been planted far and wide!  “I heard you got them started and then abandoned them” was one of things that crossed my ears.

In closing, always remember that a star shines in the day even when you don’t know it!  I can proudly say that I am the Founding Past-President of the Ben Holt Memorial Branch of the National Association of Negro Musicians, Inc.  But over the course of these several days, I have been snubbed and my groundwork all to little recognition.  The opening history of the Ben Holt Branch that I have seen on printed programs made no mention of the history that has been presented in the beginning of this post.

Humbleness goes only but so far!  Whether it is acknowledged publicly or not, let it be known that I, along with some of my most ardent supporters started the Ben Holt Memorial Branch in memory of my dear friend Mayme Wilkins Holt’s, son Ben Holt, who had a rich, lasting legacy in Washington.

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One Response to “Dimming Your Light”

  1. Thank you for all you have done and continue to do for the arts community of Washington DC. You have brought people together and served them and God has elevated you as a result.

    Like

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